Winners of a fourth annual essay contest were announced Wednesday, March 22 at Norris Elementary School. The contest, sponsored by the Advanced Association of Retired Persons and the Georgia Retired Educators Association, provides fifth graders across the nation the opportunity to write about their grandparents.
This year's theme was "Sharing a Lifetime of Learning: What We Learn from Each Other."
From left, first place winner Jared Holliman, Ann Sutherland and Jan McTier of Tri-County REA and third place winner Elizabeth Johnson pose for a picture.
"It was so interesting. As I told that first class we went to, I wish I could adopt all of them. Some of their grandmothers must be wonderful because they learned to play those video games and do the computer... And some others, their grandma must be a slow learner... I think it's a marvelous project," said Jan McTier, the president of the Tri-County REA, which organized the contest in McDuffie, Warren and Glascock Counties.
At Norris Elementary, Jared Holliman's essay won first place, Austin Whittle took second, and Elizabeth Johnson placed third.
All winners received a Wal-Mart gift card - $20 for first place, $15 for second, and $10 for third. AARP of Georgia supplied the money for the prizes; the National Retired Teachers Association supplied the theme and the certificates, and GREA handled the paperwork and material distribution. Mrs. McTier said the Tri-County Association was responsible for the personal contacts with the schools, judging the local essays, and also contributed some to the prize funds.
Betty Terry, from Glasscock County, Emily Massey from Warren County, Ann Sutherland and Jan McTier from McDuffie County, all retired teachers, were the judges. Mrs. McTier said the essays are numbered, and the classroom teachers have the list of names and numbers, so the judges "read them blind to the names." Winners were chosen based on content and how well they developed the theme, she said. Participation in the contest is voluntary, a free-time activity, and not graded by the teacher.
"It was very difficult to make a decision because so many of them are good. They have very good ideas. It's so fun to pick out the winner without knowing who the kids are," Mrs. McTier said.
First place winner Jared Holliman is 11, loves math and sports, and said he can't wait to go to Wal-Mart to spend his winnings. Jared wrote about his granddad, Hosey Cummings, and his grandma, Helen Cummings. Jared said his grandmother died three years ago.
"She was very close to me. And my Granddad spends a lot of time with me. When nobody else had time to help me, he always did," Jared said.
Jared's teacher, Kathy Cook, said she is proud Jared won, and was excited about the contest.
"We have been working on grandparent projects in class, also, so this was just icing on the cake," Ms. Cook said.
Ninety-three students wrote of their experiences, either teaching a grandparent something, or learning from a grandparent. Winners in Glascock County were Tiffany Timms, Ariel Russell and Joe Kitchens. Warren County winners were Denisha Tanksley, Briceton McNair and Javarri Johnson.